California Q's - Season Selection Practices
How does your theatre choose its season of productions?
Committee and AD
By committee, then approval by board.
Via the Artistic Direction Committee
Play Reading Committee
"There is a selection committee which includes board members, directors, actors, designers, some of whom work with us some of whom do not. Everyone on the committee is clear that their participation in NO way effects the APD's decisions about who will work on the productions and in what capacity. We meet several times and communicate by email a fair amount. The process takes from 2-4 months depending on availability of titles etc. estimations of budgets, etc. The committee relies heavily on the APD to vet the titles and make recommendations."
Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors makes suggestions and then votes for our Season.
The AD and the board
"For our first season, the Artistic Director chose most of the shows. For our 2019-2020 season, we took suggestions from the board, whittled down and made choices."
Executive Director/Managing Director/Artistic Director chooses
Mostly music director and managing director decide
Analysis of patron interests, artistic director and board recommendations
Directors submit titles (to a Play Selection Committee)
Does your season require Board of Director approval?
Who is responsible (or participates in) for proposing productions for upcoming seasons?
All Board Members. Sometimes we also solicit ideas from our "in house" Directors.
Chosen committee members
Managing director and music director
Past directors, committee members
"We allow anybody to pitch a production.
The production committee also brainstorms ideas and shows."
Anyone can suggest ideas
Members of the committee, our patrons, local actors/directors. The APD tracks all suggestions she gets and includes them on a Trello board which the committee uses.
Board, whittled down by small board committee
Theater division's artistic director & board member recommendations
Play Reading Committee
What are your largest criteria for choosing a production, i.e.: director choice, casting challenges, rights, etc?
Size of cast; difficulty of set; cost of royalties
Community appeal; the ability to produce in our small space (only 75 seats); cohesiveness with the other Season selections.
Artistic merit, audience preference, production values.
Appropriateness of the show, casting challenges (we're in a small community), interest of the community, director options, musical skills available/required
Casting and production challenges; audience; cost of rights
"Is it the right production for our community at this time? Will we sell tickets and make money? We ask and consider stagecraft, cast requirements, underlying themes, and the plot. Is it family friendly or more adult oriented? Is a director attached to the show? This is a very big deal as the driving force needs to be excited and passionate about a project. What are the costs of the rights and what do we project as overall costs. Our production team also sets the order of the shows for the season. We try to find a mix of drama vs. comedy, old and new shows, a musical every year, etc. We must always have a holiday/Christmas show."
Actor availability, set requirements, Live? or recorded music?, audience interest
Appeal to our community, budget, marketing ability, ability to cast, finding an appropriate venue (as we don't have our own space)
Technical limitations; popularity; cast size
Balance of season, availability, size of cast and preference for unit sets for small stage. Often have suggestions of interested directors. Casting challenges is a big issue. Shows with women , not too many men as they do not turn out readily (not hard and fast, just a general problem) People of various ethnicities seldom available in our area. Getting rights is problematic except for musicals.
Casting challenges, size of the set, costume changes.
"Oh, it is a big jigsaw puzzle. For me (the APD) it is really important to keep the theatre financially healthy, so box office is important. At least 4 of our 5 productions each year have to be a good draw. After that it is a balance of human, financial, and physical resources available. A big draw can be bad if you can't do work because you can not fully staff and support the production."
What is your ideal season? Or, what is a production you would love to see at your theatre?
Fiddler on the Roof; Mamma Mia
My ideal season is: She Loves Me, Guys and Dolls, The Drowsy Chaperone
West Side story
Shenandoah musical - always difficult finding enough men.
"My favorite season that we did was: Death of a Salesman, The Music Man, and Assassins. All three presented tortured/tormented outsiders as a main plot point, and Assassins makes explicit references to Death of a Salesman. It was clever programming, I thought."
A mystery; a comedy; a classic; a musical; an avant garde.
Doubt: A Parable, It’s A Wonderful Life or Christmas Carol by Dickens, Lend Me A Tenor, Chicago, The Play That Goes Wrong.
Something Rotten, Waitress, Fun Home.
It would include Blithe Spirit, a Shakespeare comedy and a big musical
Addams Family; Shrek
Les Miserable, A Few Good Men, Brigadoon, Singing In The Rain, Rumors, The Boys In The Band